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Heaslip Shortlisted For European Player Of The Year Award

Heaslip Shortlisted For European Player Of The Year Award

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip is in the running for the EPCR European Player of the Year award for 2015. He has been included on the shortlist with players from Champions Cup finalists Clermont Auvergne and Toulon and beaten semi-finalists Saracens.

The Clermont pair of Nick Abendanon and Fritz Lee, as well as last season’s winner, Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage, are vying for the coveted accolade along with the Leinster skipper Jamie Heaslip and Billy Vunipola of Saracens.

Watch the players in action here.

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The judging panel selected a longlist of 15 players based on performances during the pool stages of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup and that list has now been reduced to five players following the quarter-finals and semi-finals weekends.

In addition to the decision of the judges, the 40 teams in the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup will have the opportunity to vote for the shortlist contenders, while supporters can also have their say on Twitter using #EPCRPlayer2015, and on the tournament Facebook pages.

The winner will be announced after the Champions Cup final.


Nick Abendanon
Club: Clermont Auvergne
Age: 28
Position: Full-back
CC/HC apps: 30
2014/15: P8 Pts 15 (3T)
Country: England (2 caps)

Abendanon been in outstanding form for Clermont during their impressive run to another European final. Sparkling in attack, secure under the high ball, and also in the top three performers in the Most Carries, Most Metres Gained, Most Clean Breaks and Most Defenders Beaten tournament stats categories.

Steffon Armitage
Club: Toulon
Age: 29
Position: Back rower
CC/HC apps: 44
2014/15: P8 20 pts (4T)
Country: England (5 caps)

Last season’s winner of the European Player of the Year award has again proved himself as one of Europe’s most dynamic and effective back rowers. A hat-trick of tries in round 5 against Ulster and leading the way on turnovers won with 19 for the Champions Cup season to date.

Jamie Heaslip
Province: Leinster
Age: 31
Position: Number 8
CC/HC apps: 74
2014/15: P8
Country: Ireland (72 caps)

Ever-present during Leinster’s push to the Marseille semi-final where they went close to upsetting Toulon’s dream of three titles in-a-row, Heaslip led his side with some strong ball-carrying (number 1 in the tournament stats) and uncompromising defence.

Fritz Lee
Club: Clermont Auvergne
Age: 26
Position: Number 8
CC/HC apps: 13
2014/15: P7 10 pts (2T)
Country: New Zealand (uncapped)

A revelation this season, Lee was at the heart of some of Clermont’s very best performances in the current campaign – most notably the wins over Munster in Limerick and Northampton in the quarter-final. Missed the semi-final due to a hamstring injury.

Billy Vunipola
Club: Saracens
Age: 22
Position: Number 8
CC/HC apps: 17
2014/15: P8 10 pts (2T)
Country: England (17 caps)

Hard to believe that one of Saracens’ go-to players is still only 22. A highly destructive ball carrier with plenty of room for improvement which is a scary thought for defences in European club rugby’s elite tournament.

Judging Panel: Emmanuel Massicard (Editor, Midi Olympique), Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports/Sunday Times), Alan Quinlan (Sky Sports/Irish Times), Mick Cleary (Rugby Correspondent, Daily Telegraph), Dimitri Yachvili (beIN Sports).

Previous Winners: Ronan O’Gara (Munster – best player of first 15 years of European club rugby tournaments); Sean O’Brien (Leinster) 2011; Rob Kearney (Leinster) 2012; Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon) 2013; Steffon Armitage (Toulon) 2014.